Desert Diamond Casino could be new vaccine site

FEMA could set up vaccination POD without state permission
Posted at 12:19 AM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 18:59:41-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Pima County is still waiting for word on exactly when FEMA will arrive in Tucson with about half a million vaccine doses.

Board supervisor Matt Heinz told KGUN9 the state and FEMA are still working things out, so there's still a delay.

So now Heinz wants to set in motion a new site that won't require state permission.

“We can't just wait around for this to happen,” said Heinz.

Desert Diamond Casino, he said, could be the site of a FEMA-run pod.

But unlike the two other chosen sites for FEMA-run PODs, El Pueblo and Kino Centers, this one doesn't require state approval.

That's because it's on the Tohono O'Odham reservation.

“That is something they can do without the state involved in any way because they are, of course, their own sovereign nation,” he said.

The reservation location is adjacent to the at-risk minority region Pima County is targeting.

Heinz said the tribal Chairman Ned Norris has been talking with Pima County leaders and appears to be on board.

“The chairman actually proposed doing this before, right about the time when we thought the Governor and the state backed off of blocking these vaccines,’ said Heinz.

Heinz said he'll introduce a motion at Tuesday’s Board meeting directing the county administrator to ask Chairman Norris to request FEMA set up a federal vaccination site on the reservation.

How fast could that happen?

“I would hope that in 7 to 10 days that could happen,” he said.